November 30, 2020
Have you ever felt like you don’t matter to God? That even though you’ve tried to be a good person, go to Church regularly, read your Bible and love your neighbor – but you still feel like you’re missing something? Or maybe you feel God is so preoccupied with other things, that He couldn’t possibly care about the burdens and struggles of your everyday life, that you feel like He doesn’t see you? Or maybe you just feel like God’s abandoned you – that He’s hasn’t been there for you when you needed Him most?
Well, if you’ve ever felt like you’re missing something, felt overlooked, or even abandoned by God – then what we’re going to look at today from God’s Word may just change your view of God. For in Jesus day, there were thousands of people who felt the same way: they felt as though God was indifferent to their plight as they struggled with the burdens of ordinary life. That’s why so many flocked to see and hear Jesus. For when Jesus spoke, His words not only gave them hope, but told them that they really do matter to God.
So if you brought your Bible with you today, let me encourage you to find Matthew 5:1-5, where Jesus begins to unpack for us: The Gospel of the Kingdom. For in His introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes it clear that God is not indifferent to our plight. Rather, we hear in the good news of the kingdom, how God’s favor is available to all who need God’s grace.
But first, let’s begin where Matthew begins, with the setting of this Sermon. Perhaps the greatest message ever given to us from God. Matthew writes: Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
If you were a Jew, hearing the Gospel of Matthew for the first time, this little phrase was ripe with significance. For this expression, “He went up on the mountain,” is the very same wording used in the Greek Old Testament of Moses when he went up onto the mountain to receive the law of God for the very first time. So Matthew is telling anyone listening: “Just as Moses went up on the mountain, so Jesus went up on the mountain. Just as Moses spoke with authority, Jesus speaks with authority. And just as Moses came with God’s commandments to create a new people under God’s Law; Jesus has come with God’s Word to create a new people with new hearts, new affections and new attitudes in the kingdom of God.” THIS IS THE NEW KINGDOM that Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the rest of the prophets were anticipating. And now with Jesus going up on this mountain; He has come to give the good news of the Kingdom of God. And He begins by saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Now, there’s one more thing we need to make clear before we unpack this good news. We need to grasp what Jesus means when he says: “blessed.” For when we think of this term blessed, we often equate blessings with how the world understands blessings. Let me tell you what I mean: Our world tells us we are blessed when we are well off – when we have monetary wealth. We are blessed when we can clothe ourselves and surround ourselves with beautiful things and experience a good quality of life. Like much of what you and I have worked for all our lives. We look around and see all we have and what we get to do, and we say, “I’ve been blessed.” But that’s not what this term means.
Our world also tells us we are blessed when life works in our favor – when we find the prefect job, marry the man or woman of our dreams, when our kids grow up to be amazing people and when your life is a picture of health, and we say, “I’ve been blessed.” But this also is not what this term means.
Finally, our world tells us we are blessed when we have it all together. So if you’re successful, bright, and you can make things happen – people notice you, admire you, want to be around you, doors open for you and friends are easy to come by, and we say, “I’ve been blessed.” Indeed, these are blessings in life. But again, this is not what this word means.
So when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek… He isn’t talking about the HAPPY CIRCUMSTANCES of your life. No, he’s saying quite the opposite. He is saying: Blessing speaks of God’s favor on your life no matter what your circumstance in life.
He is saying that God’s favor is available to those who’ve been written off; to those who’ve been wounded; and to those who’ve been walked over in life. He is saying that Blessing is found in God who has come near to be with you in the midst of your struggles in life.
It’s what Isaiah predicted when he wrote: “Strengthen tired hands and revive the stumbling knees. Say to the despairing hearts: Be of good cheer. Do not be afraid. See, your God is coming!” Isaiah 35:3-4 This is the good news of the kingdom – the announcement of the time of God’s favor. And so Jesus announces:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Who are the poor in spirit? These are the ones who’ve been written off in life. They are the spiritually bankrupt. They’ve been written off by the religious elite, who have told them time and again, they do not measure up. They aren’t good enough. They have disappointed God.
Dallas Willard gives us a clear description of the spiritually poor: “There’s nothing about them to suggest that the breath of God might move through their lives. They have no charisma, no religious clout. They don’t know their Bibles. No one calls on them to help serve or even give a prayer. They are the last to say they have any claim on God whatsoever.”
As Jesus says, they are the spiritually poor. Not poor in the monetary sense, but spiritually bankrupt. They are spiritual beggars who cower before God, holding out their hands, desperately hoping God has mercy on them. They are the tax-collector at the Temple who prays: “Have mercy on me God, for I am a sinner.” This then is a conscious awareness of your unworthiness before God.
But when Jesus declares, “blessed are the poor in spirit,” those who are truly aware of their unworthiness hear the voice of mercy they’ve longed to hear. They hear, “You may have been written off by the religious establishment, but not by me. I am for you. And I have a place for you with Me in my kingdom.” And that’s good news!
Why does Jesus say this? Because God has always said this: “For this is what the high and exalted One says – He who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15
James says it this way: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” James 4:6. The good news of the kingdom is that God favor’s those who are lowly in heart. It is this poverty of spirit, this conscious awareness of unworthiness before God, that opens the floodgates of God’s mercy. For when we’re totally honest and confess we are indeed sinful and in need of God, this is where blessing begins.
And the funny thing is, we can’t manufacture this. We can’t make ourselves humble before God as if we might earn His blessing by our confession. No, we are either poor in spirit and utterly helpless to save ourselves; or we are proud, thinking that we are good enough as we are. There is no middle ground.
So it is not surprising then, to hear from Jesus that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. So what Jesus blesses is humble repentance. You are either poor in spirit or you are not. And if you are, then God says He has a place for you with Him. He is drawn to you. Therefore, if you are poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is open to you. God has come to bring you home to be with Him. That’s the first blessing.
Here’s the next: Blessed are those who mourn: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Who are the mourners? Jesus is speaking to anyone who grieves over the blackness of their sin. Isaiah was one such man, as was seen in his vision of God, where the angels of heaven covered their faces in God’s presence and cried out, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” In seeing this, Isaiah’s reaction was one of utter devastation over his own sinfulness before a holy God. He grieved over his sin in the presence of a holy God. And part of his devastation was knowing that he had no way of removing the guilt and shame of his sin. And this realization almost destroyed him, until God stepped in and removed His guilt. So Jesus is speaking to anyone who is repulsed by the horror of their sin. To anyone who realizes their sin has offended God. Have you ever felt that way about your sin? Have you ever grieved over the horror of your own sin?
If you have, then when Jesus says: “blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted” That’s good news. For Jesus declares that God offers us relief from our grief. You see, you and I can only suppress our sin, ignore our sin, medicate our sin, make up excuses for our sin – but we have no ability to rid ourselves of sin. But God does. He offers us relief. How. By forgiving your sin. That’s grace! For there’s no greater comfort then to have the burden of your sin removed once and for all by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Over the years I have had the privilege of sharing this good news found in Jesus Christ. Of how by his blood, shed on the cross for our sin, covers our sin and makes it possible to have every sin washed away. The greatest blessing you can ever experience is receiving the comfort that forgiveness brings. I remember one of the first times I guided a teenager through the gospel, and he came to the place where he put his faith in Jesus and received God’s forgiveness. I remember telling him, “You might not feel any different after trusting in Jesus, because trusting is an act of faith, and feelings will come later.” But he said to me, “No, I do feel different. I feel lighter. I feel clean. God has taken away the heaviness of my sin. And I know I am forgiven.”
That’s the good news. God wants to unburden you from the weight of your sin, of the agony of your guilt and shame: Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. God is the comforter. In fact, the Comforter is another name for the Holy Spirit. He is the one who comes to live in us when we trust in Jesus. And when He does, He comforts us with the indescribable peace God’s presence. And that’s the good news. Blessing comes when God removes your sin and replaces it with His presence.
So let me ask you: Have you let God take away the burden of your sin? Have you trusted in Jesus to forgive your sin? If you haven’t, you will never truly be happy – because you can’t remove your own guilt. It will always be there. Listen to how John MacArthur explains this. He says, “Only mourners over sin are happy because only mourners over sin have their sins forgiven. Sin and happiness are totally incompatible. Where one exists the other cannot. Until sin is forgiven and removed, happiness is locked out. Mourning over sin brings forgiveness of sin, and forgiveness of sin brings a freedom and joy that cannot be experienced any other way.” So let me ask you again: Have you experienced this blessing from God? This blessing that Jesus gives when He removes the weight of your sin so you can experience His loving presence.
You see, God doesn’t want you to suppress your sin or live with the devastating effects of your sin. Because it is your sin that keeps you from knowing Him. That’s why God sent Jesus, to do for you what you cannot do for yourself: to remove your sin and reconcile you with the Father in Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God is the God of all comfort, and He wants to comfort you. And that’s the good news of the kingdom. God binds up those who are broken over the grief of their sin. And replaces your grief with joy. That’s the second blessing of the good news, now the third:
Blessed are the meek: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Who are the meek? Well, they are ones who have been walked on in life. These are the shy ones, the overlooked ones, the mild and unassertive ones. In a world where everyone is trying to get ahead, these are the ones who are often taken advantage of. They are the gentle ones, who don’t have anyone to speak for them. In many ways, these are the ones who feel as though this world is not their home, and they long for a world where people will treat one another with kindness and respect. They long for a world where no one abuses power to get what they want. They are the meek.
It is to the meek that Jesus declares the good news. And he promises them a future, where they will one day inherit the earth. In other words, there will come a day when God’s reign will fill all the earth, justice will prevail, and people will treat one another with dignity and love. You see, we live in a day, when it’s the strong, the manipulative, the ambitious who do whatever it takes to gain what this world promises. We live in a dog eat dog world, where families are sacrificed, marriages suffer, and friendships abused so you can get ahead. It’s always been this way. And it is the meek of this world who often suffer for it. But it is the meek of this world who God is drawn to. Now it is to the meek, that Jesus offers this hope – that the world the way it is now, will someday no longer be. For God’s kingdom is at hand. There is a King who is not of this world who has who has arrived on the scene to give us hope – and His name is Jesus, the one who is gentle and lowly in heart.
And Jesus is saying there is now hope for a better way of life than what you see in this world. It’s life in the kingdom with Jesus. You no longer have to be on the outside looking in. You now have an advocate who has come not only to speak up for you, but who will include you, watch over you, and be for you in a world that’s often against you. That’s the joy of this blessing. With the arrival of Jesus the meek have a God who is FOR YOU!
That’s the good news of the Kingdom. If you need a Savior, He has come. If you need a Comforter, He has come. If you need an Advocate, He has come. You matter to God. Your grief can be relieved. You can have hope. For Jesus brings the good news of God’s grace. There is now help for the helpless, healing for the hurting and hope for the hopeless, and it’s all found in Jesus!
The good news is that God hasn’t forgotten you. He knows your plight. He knows the weight of your sin. And He cares so much for you that He sent His one and only Son to die for you, so that you might have a Savior, a Comforter and an Advocate who is always for you. That’s the good news of the kingdom, and it’s all found in Jesus.
And all you need to do, is come to Jesus and put your trust in Him. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and let Him take away the weight of your sin, heal your grieving heart and bring you home to God. God hasn’t forgotten you. He’s come to bless you with a New life with Him – a life where He is with you and for you forever. That’s the good news of the Kingdom.